These have been some good days this week. Yesterday at the end of work I noticed some of our loan officers outside with a long bamboo pole. At first I thought they were trying to knock the coconuts out of the palm tree, a dangerous endeavor. It seems comical but coconuts falling unannounced can put your lights out or worse. They were using the pole to attack the guava tree that hides between the coconut palm and the mango tree. I’m sure it would take me some time to master the method for picking guava, so fortunate for me they were kind to share.
It’s not every day that I taste a fruit I’ve never tried before! It reminded me of the time that we tasted jackfruit in Uganda. The jackfruit grows hanging from a tree and they can get to be about the size and shape of a watermelon. They are bright yellow with a spiky exterior and have a dense, sweet, sticky yellow flesh replete with large seeds. They are tasty and like nothing I’ve tasted before or since. Equally it reminded me of the summer day working at Point Loma last year when I packed my lunch and met up with good friends on the grounds crew in one the hidden away garden sheds on campus. After lunch we took a short trip to the loquat tree near the campus security building and my friends shared those tiny tasty tangy fruits. Or, there was the time I discovered the American Cameo Apple at Henry’s Marketplace in San Diego and couldn’t stop singing its praises for months. There are probably people in San Diego who are crying out, “good riddance that guy who talked about that apple has vanished!” There are a few others who are eating all the Cameos in my stead… and spreading the news.
There must be something universally human about finding a new and tasty fruit on a tree never before seen and being the one who shares it with friends. Perhaps it goes back to the Garden of Eden and the untold abundance of available fruits, with only one poisoned and forbidden. Coca-Cola is the most recognized brand name in the world and they own over 400 sugar soda brands across the globe. Lest they forget that God has far more brands of fruit, sweet and natural. There are hundreds of varieties of mangos alone!
I can remember the first few weeks of every new job I have ever had. (Teaching piano, auto finance, PLNU) There are many moments when the brain pauses in sheer overload and you think to yourself, “What have I gotten myself into!?” Though nothing has been altogether impossible to understand in the last two months, I have taken in a lot of information regarding everything from security to accounting to human resources and everything through the my American lens in a place that’s about as far from America as you can get. Now I am assimilating all of the instruction my colleagues have bestowed upon me, putting it into play, and the pieces are fitting together pretty well.
Late this afternoon I was scratching my chin as I read the manual for our power inverter which is currently non-functional and there may not be anyone here in town who knows how to fix it. (If anyone out there knows power inverters or knows someone who does, please let me know. For those of you who don’t have a clue, (like me,) it’s a device that uses the AC electricity to charge a bunch of big batteries and then when the power goes out it supplies auxiliary emergency power to run our computers so we can continue working.) I have been spending time with each member of the staff to learn more about their professional and personal history. As I was sitting there trying to interpret the wiring diagrams our Loan Officer Supervisor Lowa walked into the room and asked me if t was an appropriate time to have our discussion. I quickly obliged even though there were only thirty minutes remaining in the workday. We ended up talking until about seven o’clock. It’s great finding a good new conversation partner, colleague or friend anywhere in the world. It ranks right up there with finding a new fruit or any other gift from God.
These have been some good days this week. I have been trying to reach my friends Lilliane and Richard in San Diego for some time now. I got a voicemail from Lilliane this evening and we just had a great conversation. Lilliane and Richard are from Congo and I know that it was partly my friendship with them that ignited my desire to come and work here. After a great talk with Lowa and another one with Lilliane, my jaw hurts from so much talking and my head hurts from doing it all in French.
A man named John comes and helps around the house two days a week. He may be the most friendly and hard working person I have ever met. He works as the head guard for the guard company that watches our office. I have inherited this arrangement by which he works here twice a week. On the days when he works at the apartment he also rides his bike to the university where he is taking classes to become a nurse. He is married and has two children. He recently bought land and is going to start building a house. I asked him how he does it all and he said, “We just aren’t made to sit around.” Today I asked him to get some bleach to make a light solution for washing vegetables. Then I was trying to communicate that I would like him to buy a cucumber to make some salad. I was stumbling in my French and gesturing and trying to think of how to say pickle, but that would have made things worse. He couldn’t understand me. (I find that sometimes repeating it in English doesn’t help.) I tried to look it up online but the internet cut out. Then he says “concombre!?” It’s almost the same word with a French accent! We both laughed for about two minutes. I’ve been feeling a distinct lack of vegetables in my diet. Tonight it was incredible eating that cucumber diced up with tomatoes, onions and greens. I don’t think a squash ever tasted so good! Tonight the blog is dedicated to John. As for me, I will never forget how to say cucumber in French!
p.s. I hope to have more photos posted soon!